Be There [on Merely A Thought Monday]

“Most of us are frightened of dying because we don’t know what it meant to live. We don’t know how to live, therefore we don’t know how to die.” ~ Jiddu Krishnamurti

Today we took a walk in the swirling snow. The wind stung my face and I was grateful for the extra layer I’d put on before we set out. Our destination was the city civic building on the other side of downtown. The Sisu property tax bill was due. We could have mailed it or taken the car. “People must think we’re crazy,” Kerri said as we leaned into the wind and laughed.

On Monday we interred Beaky’s ashes. As I watched the attendant seal the niche, I thought of a famous quote by Helen Keller: “Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all.” And that quote brought to mind two more that I appreciate and stitch together as a single thought: Science may have found a cure for most evils; but it has found no remedy for the worst of them all—the apathy of human beings./Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it.”

The apathy of human beings. Security is mostly a superstition. Reach your hand and help another; a cure for both apathy and security-superstition.

I only knew Beaky for a brief time but she had an enormous impact on me. She was in a rehab facility the day I met her and I knew immediately that she was special. Every nurse, therapist or aide that came in to see her left feeling better. Beaky was a lifter of spirits. These dedicated people were her caregivers yet, in the midst of her pain, she gave care to them. Kindness was her north star and she followed it with a passion.

Yesterday I had an interview with Joe. His job is checking-in and coaching people on unemployment, mostly making certain they are on track seeking new work. We had a great conversation. We told stories and laughed. We swapped ideas. I left the conversation uplifted and I’m sure he felt the same way. People supporting people is a two-way street and is life-giving. Adventures are made of stepping into the unknown and the heart of another human being is always unknown territory. I was grateful for his kindness.

Kindness is also a potent cure for apathy. Like reaching your hand, kindness requires an outward focus.

It’s really not so difficult. Before sealing the niche, Kerri played the ukulele and we sang Irving Berlin’s Always: Days may not be fair, Always/That’s when I’ll be there, Always.

Being there. Especially in the moments when life is not fair. Plenty of people have taught me (again and again) the simple power of presence, giving me the assurance that I am not alone. Being there, it’s nothing more or less than knowing how to live.

read Kerri’s blogpost about ALWAYS

Greet The New Day [on saturday morning smack-dab.]

“It’s like we have this one chance. To greet the new day. Outside. A night with stars. And…it’s a new year. Riiiight now. All ours. Under the big, big, sky.” ~ Kerri Sherwood, Smack-Dab.

It warmed my heart when she showed me this week’s Smack-Dab. A message of hope. Available Riiight Now!

My beautiful wife, whose very first words to me, when I asked her to tell-me-in-a-nutshell-what-was-going-on, were, “I don’t do nutshells,” has achieved at long last an exquisite nutshell.

Happy New Year. Greet the new day. All yours. Under the big, big sky.

read Kerri’s blogpost on this saturday morning smack-dab.

smack-dab. © 2022-23 kerrianddavid.com

Step In [on DR Thursday]

I’ve read that the purpose of the gorgeous soaring cathedrals, built in the middle ages over many lifetimes, in the age before power tools and hydraulic lifts, was to transport the worshipper from the harsh realities of their everyday lives. To give them a small glimpse into their notion of heaven. A sanctuary. A taste of peace.

We made it a point to stop. The road home from Chicago runs past the small village square with the gazebo awash in the light of a tree, the brilliant green and blue spheres beckoning. It was late at night and very cold but we had to stop. We wandered, breaking the cold silence with crunchy footfall and took photographs. For a few moments time stopped. Rather than being transported from our lives, we stepped fully into our moment. We entered our present-cathedral, alive with many moons, and absorbed its quiet peace.

Open to all the stars in the universe, this sanctuary filled us with beauty and hope.

That night, all we needed to do to fill ourselves with hope was make it a point to stop. To step out of our warm car and step into the cold night. No stonemasons needed. No toil-over-lifetimes. Just a simple decision. Stop. Open the door. Step in.

Kerri’s albums are available on iTunes and streaming on Pandora

read Kerri’s blogpost about THE SQUARE

face the rain © 2019 david robinson

joy!/ joy! a christmas album © 1998 kerri sherwood

See Through The Trees [on Not So Flawed Wednesday]

I was about to paint a new composition over an old canvas. Kerri flung herself in front of the old painting claiming that she loved it and had recently admired it. I wrinkled my brow at the impossibility of her claim. The old painting was an experiment I labeled “hotel art.” Also, it was sideways in the stacks. IF she admired it at all she was admiring it sideways. Standing between me and my canvas she said in all seriousness, “Do what you want, it’s your painting.”

Now, I will never paint over that painting. First, because I can never forget the face she made when she sprang into painting-savior mode. It melted my boorish heart. Next, because her “Do-what-you-want” manipulation was so unmasked and shameless that I’d suffer deep guilt for the rest of my days on earth if I did what I wanted and dared touch my dreaded hotel art. It’s no longer my painting. It’s become a moment that I adore, a memory that I cherish.

The new painting, had it made it into the world, would’ve been called, “Trains Through Trees.” I’ve been making sketches for a few years but, until recently, never arrived at something I liked. It’s a narrative. Our favorite yellow trail circles near railroad tracks and often on our walks a train rumbles through. For weeks Kerri made a series of videos, trying to catch the movement of the colorful graffitied train cars through the trees. Train performance art. I loved her excitement at the approaching train as she raced to a good spot to take her video. Those moments inspired an idea for a painting. The dreaded hotel art was the ideal canvas shape.

Two passing moments collide. The trains through trees. The painting-savior. They speak volumes about our life. Tiny moments like a hot cup of tea on a cold misty afternoon. They warm me. And, aren’t all of our days rich-rich-rich with the best moments of our lives, if we only took the time to notice them?

read Kerri’s blogpost about TINY MOMENTS

The Daily Gorgeous [on Merely A Thought Monday]

I’ve started thinking of our happy hour as “the daily gorgeous.” The intentional act of attention and appreciation. The great bit-of-blowback from the ritual expression of gratitude over a glass of wine and a cracker with cheese is that, the next day, you pay attention. You start looking for the gratitudes you will share. They are everywhere.

There are a few big events. For instance, knowing we lost our job, an envelope arrived in the mail with some money-to-give-us-hope.

It’s the small moments that are the surprise. When you look for them, they are ubiquitous. For instance, right now, I’m sitting next to my wife on a cold and snowy day. We are sitting under a quilt doing something we love to do. We are writing together. Here’s another: this morning while making breakfast, Dogga came into the kitchen and pressed his head into my leg. I stopped what I was doing and ruffled his ears.

Here’s another: each night I set up coffee for the next morning. The smell of freshly ground coffee beans fills the house. We look at each and say, “I can’t wait until morning so we can drink coffee!”

It’s the willingness to stop that brings the awareness. The ever availability of the abundance of gratitude, I’m learning, is readily accessible when the next moment is not granted more status than the present moment.

Central on my wall of quotes is this: I create my own stress. I will add a new Post-it note next to it that reads: I miss the gorgeous by racing through it. Necessary reminders.

My all-time favorite movie is About Time. Richard Curtis both wrote the screenplay and directed the film. It scribes a path to the realization that each day, each moment is gorgeous in all its simplicity. If you fully touch the moment you are in there’ll be no reason to try and lasso it later. Plus, you’ll have plenty to share at the daily gorgeous.

read Kerri’s blogpost about THE GORGEOUS

Witness [on DR Thursday]

It’s almost impossible for us to keep walking when the sun sets. We stop wherever we are. In quiet, we watch it descend. It’s as if we are full participants in the day’s end. Holy moments. Holding sacred space. It’s the role of the witness.

I feel the same is true now, at this year’s end. It’s not always true in December but this year is different, It’s almost impossible for us to keep walking. In quiet, holding hands, we are watching the year descend into the past.

I wonder what we are, in fact, witnessing? We stepped off the known path and are once again traveling the unknown trail. That is not new in our experience. It is actually more common in our lives to be stepping into new territory. To not know where we are going. This time feels different.

A few years ago I painted a picture that I like very much. It is simple. Kerri calls it Pax. Peace. The figure in the painting is satisfied. Present. At peace. I’ve not thought about this painting for a long time but it’s walking with me right now. It’s asking to be pulled from the stacks.

Witnessing is not passive. This painting will be our witness during the setting of the year. We will witness it as it daily reminds us to be at peace. Holding hands in sacred space. Not rushing to get out of the woods even as the light wanes.

I have sometimes wondered why I paint. Today I know without doubt the reason.

Pax, 24x24IN, mixed media

read Kerri’s blogpost about SUNSET

pax © 2015 david robinson

Call Attention [on Two Artists Tuesday]

I spent the past two years working with engineers. I was constantly amazed at what they could not see and what I could not see. They were blind to what was apparent to me and I was equally blind to what was obvious to them. It’s what made us a good team. Once, Scott sent a spreadsheet and I stared at it like it was an alien. And it was. Numbers in columns and rows become visual statements for me. I lose the data in the pattern. The information melts into a design on the page. It was beautiful and incomprehensible to me. I had to ask, “What does this mean?”

Yesterday, Kerri and I took a long hike on a trail that we hadn’t walked for a few years. It was a beautiful day. I was overcome with appreciation. I recognized that we do not walk like other people. We stop often to look. Kerri takes photographs of detail. She sees the smallest of miracles and, rather than walk-on-by, she stops. She engages. She calls my attention to it. While she snaps pictures, I close my eyes. I feel the air. I hear the cranes and geese flying overhead. I call her attention to it.

The crystals on the window stopped me in my tracks. Standing in the door of my office, I looked across the hall through a room and to the window. The ice-branches sparkled in the morning light. They were like a magic kelp forest frozen in time. I called to Kerri and she came running, camera in hand.

I cherished the moment, not because it was unusual, but because it is our ordinary. What happens on the trail also happens in our home. We are not in a rush to get “there.” We stop often to look. We call attention to what we see.

read Kerri’s blogpost about CRYSTALS

Rest In It [on saturday morning smack-dab.]

Each morning, after breakfast, Dogga retreats to the kitchen and sprawls near his bowl. It is the rendezvous spot, the place where he and BabyCat met each morning to snuggle and snooze. Every day, Dogga returns faithfully to their meeting spot. He doesn’t snooze. He waits.

BabyCat has been gone for over a year and a half. In our old house, at night, when a floor board upstairs creaks or thumps, I still think, “There’s that BabyCat!”

BabyCat was a BIG cat so there was lots of him to love. Like Dogga at the rendezvous spot, we know that big love never goes away. It’s always there – he’s always there – even if we can’t see him. We feel the love. It feels so good to find the right spot in the house, rest in it, and drink in that big warm wave of BabyCat love.

read Kerri’s blogpsot on this saturday morning smack-dab.

smack-dab. © 2022 kerrianddavid.com

Do The Important Thing [on saturday morning smack-dab.]

These are the short days of the year. The moment I’m finished with work, we head out the door for a walk before the sun disappears. Sometimes, like this week, when the weather is gorgeous, we walk the neighborhood during my lunch break. We are walk-opportunitsts.

It’s easy on the weekends to fill up the days with the-things-that-need-to-get-done. The gutters need cleaning. The leaves need raking. Winter is coming. Generally, we build the list around a walk but occasionally there is an inversion. The walk goes on the list.

I know we have our priorities straight. Even on the days of inversion, even if the list is lengthy and incomplete, we recognize that the most important thing is not the door that needs fixing or the deck that needs repair. The most important thing is to hold hands and take a walk. Together.

It’s how we appreciate our moment of life. The list can always wait for another day.

read Kerri’s blog post on this saturday morning smack-dab.

smack-dab. © 2022 kerrianddavid.com

Stay On The Root [on KS Friday]

“Energy cannot be created or destroyed; it can only be changed from one form to another.” ~ Albert Einstein

Saul’s words have been ringing in my memory: “Stay on the root.” He was a tai chi master.

He might have said, “Stay grounded,” but his reference to “the root” is more dynamic. When on “the root” there is absolutely no resistance to circumstance. Nothing can knock you off center. You are solid, rooted; not for resistance or fight but for flow. No kinks in the energy-hose.

Presence is a requirement of being on “the root.” If your mind jumps into fear-of-the-future it will pull you off center. If your heart dives into regret of the past, it will yank you off balance. Saul might remind us that our bodies are always present. What else? Our minds story us into stress and, mostly, the horror stories we tell ourselves never actually occur. Or did occur.

Here’s the most important part of his instruction: when staying firmly on”the root,” a place of no-resistance, flow is possible. In fact, anything is possible. That may, to some, sound like new-age nonsense but it is actually age-old wisdom. It’s a practice of getting out of your own way. Assume nothing. Lilies-of-the-field, etc. There’s a timeless fable about a farmer and a horse…

A week ago we walked our trail and the leaves were vibrant with color, electric. Now, they are mostly on the ground. Transforming. Nutrient for the soil. I doubt the leaves felt fear of falling or spent an ounce of life-energy in regret.

Kerri’s albums are available on iTunes and streaming on Pandora

read Kerri’s blogpost about THE LEAF

figure it out/right now © 2010 kerri sherwood